Stevia rebaudiana is an herb that is related to both lettuce and chicory. It grows wild in parts of South America where native people have used it for centuries. Now, this naturally sweet herb is commonly used as a flavor enhancer that is healthier than sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Stevia extracts are much sweeter than sugar, but do not effect blood glucose levels negatively. Stevia contains zero calories and registers zero on the glycemic index, which makes it desirable for diabetics and those trying to generate healthy natural weight loss . Also, it can be a completely natural alternative to artificial sweeteners.
Only about ½ teaspoon of pure liquid stevia is required to equal one cup of sugar. The flavor is not exactly like sugar, but similar to nectar or licorice. In addition to enhancing the flavor of teas and juices, many people use it for cooking and find that it remains stable at high temperatures.
Stevia not only contributes to lower calorie consumption and healthy blood sugar levels, it also helps create a healthier pancreas. When the pancreas absorbs the extracts, it takes in quality nourishment. This is very different from artificial sweeteners that the body regards as waste.
In 1984, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen and his company, Sunrider , perfected an extraction method without using chemicals. Today, this method is accepted as the best way to get pure liquid extracts, while maintaining the whole food structure of the plant. Powder stevia, on the other hand, is often manufactured with a chemical process that degrades the healthy benefits. So beware, some new products on the market are not delivering the same healthy benefits as the pure extracts.